Dan Skelton: You need to have a bit of luck in the Grand National *H&H VIP*

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  • Opinion

    Aintree is a very different meeting compared with Cheltenham. It’s much more fun as a fixture for those working there — as the atmosphere is altogether different and more relaxed.

    Everyone stays up there, and as professionals, we seem to be able to enjoy it more. At Cheltenham you never dare let yourself relax, but at Aintree it’s somehow different.

    We have a few good chances heading there, including two runners on the first day, two on the second and then four (or five) on the third.

    You need to have a bit of luck, as ever, but we’re most hopeful for Yorkist, North Hill Harvey and Born Survivor. Captain Forez is more of a chaser in the making but we like his chances in the novice hurdle on Saturday (8 April). He is owned by the Hales, who had a Grand National winner with Neptune Collonges.

    I’ve never had a National runner, but when I was at Paul Nicholls’ [who trained Neptune Collonges], it was such an exciting time.

    The first time I went to the Grand National meeting was in 1997 — the year the meeting was rearranged to the Monday due to a bomb scare. The rearranged meeting was brilliant and I’ve loved it ever since.

    The thing about the Grand National is that it really captures the public’s imagination. Everyone knows the race and wants to watch it, but at the same time everyone knows how hard it is to win.

    You can easily have a 33-1 shot winning — but you have to worry about getting round before you even think about passing the post in front. A lot of luck is needed, plus a horse that keeps out of trouble.

    This is the second year that the race has been run an hour later; this year it’s at 5.15pm. For those working in the industry, it doesn’t really make a difference, but it’s mainly for the television audiences. Anything that attracts more viewers has to be a positive though — you won’t hear me disagreeing with that.

    Best of luck to all those running at the weekend. It’s a very exciting time and we hope that all the horses and jockeys come home safely.

    Heading for 100

    We are just three away from 100 winners for the season now [at the time of writing], which is very exciting. Harry [my brother and jockey] is just 15 off 100, so we’re all grafting really hard to get him there.

    We also had our first runner and winner for the Rio Gold Racing Club that my dad is an ambassador for, called I’ll Be Your Clown. We did it as a bit of fun for the summer and it’s certainly going to be that. There’s 10 horses, and the club is made up of 100 shares at £3,000 each. We’ve sold 30, including one to Rodrigo Pessoa as he loves the Brazilian-themed colours. To have a winner is exciting and we’re looking forward to having some more fun with the racing club.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 6 April 2017